FBCX - First Baptist Church of Christ
So what's up with the name, "The First Baptist Church of Christ"? It's a question we get a lot from newbies to our family of faith.
Which is a good thing. Because the question gives us a chance to explain we are not a garden-variety First Baptist Church. This is said not in arrogance or in judgment, but as a simple statement of fact. The truth is, we are more progressive in spirit, liturgical in worship, and welcoming and ecumenical in our reach than most First Baptist Churches in the south (and perhaps beyond the south, but I claim no expertise in Yankee religion!).
But the somewhat novel name of our church predates who we are today. In fact, the lovely, lilting name, "First Baptist Church of Christ" hails from our founding in 1826 when we were christened "The Baptist Church of Christ at Macon." (The "First" came later when other Baptist churches were founded in the area.) Being designated a Baptist Church "of Christ" was not unique in Georgia in the early 19th century. However, as Baptists became part of a more tightly-structured denomination, many congregations dropped the "of Christ" and "Baptist" alone was used in the name.
That, I fear, was regrettable. After all, being Christian is more important than being Baptist. (Anyone wanting to argue the point, please take it up with Jesus!). We are Christians first and Baptists second. Being Baptist is not unimportant, but it is secondary to the fundamental confession that formed the church and binds believers throughout time and eternity: "Jesus is Lord!"
As to our relationship to the "Church of Christ" and the "Disciples of Christ,” we are kissing cousins but not denominationally related. While these churches share certain similarities to Baptists, such as local church governance and believer's baptism, Baptists hearken back to 17th century England and the "Christian Churches" to 19th century America.
So why do we stubbornly insist on remaining the "First Baptist Church of Christ", despite the curiosity and confusion the name sometimes arouses? Because the name reminds us Who we are and Whose we are.
Yes, we are a band of freedom-loving believers who don't baptize babies, answer to Bishops, or sacrifice conscience in the service of creeds. And yes, we are "First" because we are the Mother Church of Baptists in Macon. But first, last, and always, we belong to Christ. It is our deepest passion to know, love, and follow him.
So if someone asks what the name means, tell them, "We are the `First Baptist Church of Christ' because we belong to the crucified and risen One. And of all the words in the title, his name is the most important."